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MTB news & racing round-up for November 28, 2008

Welcome to our regular roundup of what's happening in mountain biking. Feel free to send feedback, news, & releases to mtb@cyclingnews.com and results, reports & photos to cyclingnews@cyclingnews.com.

Edited by Sue George

Bunzli & Silva capture Copa Chile Jeep finals

Silva and Ferreira win overall rankings

Elite men's cross country podium
Photo ©: Copa Chile
(Click for larger image)

Round five of the Copa Chile Jeep, the largest national championship series in South America, wrapped up on the Circuito Lo Barnechea in Santiago, Chile. 930 racers, including 450 cross country and 480 downhill, participated in the two-day finale.

In the men's cross country, the Pan-American champion and Chilean Olympian Cristóbal Silva (Team ADO - Cannondale) repeated his championship overall win by taking four of the five total races, including the last round. He finished second in just one of the races, in which he was defeated by Javier Püschel (Team Scott).

Francisca Campos (Team Scott), also a representative of Chile in Beijing at the Olympic Games, won two of the women's rounds. However, consistency and dedication paid off for Daniella Bünzli (Team Vitalife - Cannondale), who won three races, including the final round and the overall ranking.

Among the younger racers, the intermediate women's category was the most exciting with the podium changing from race to race. In the 15-16 women's category, Laura Munizaga (Team Vitalife - Cannondale) showed her promise as a future star up and coming in the next few years.

In the downhill, the courses kept surprising the competition, leaving the quest for the overall more open than in previous year and maintaining the suspense until the last race. Pedro Ferreira (Commencal), won the general men's ranking after he proved successful in avoiding crashes and making consistent podium appearances. Verónica Miranda (Rocky Mountain) proved that she is the fastest of her kind, winning all the women's downhill races with comfortable time margins over her competition on the way to an overall title. In the junior men's 17-18 category, Andreas Kukulís, won decisively even as the courses changed from round to round.

This championship served as a qualifier for the Pan American Mountain Bike Championships to be held in March next year in Chile.

See Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the final round of the Copa Chile Jeep.

Moseley says farewell to Kona

Tracy Moseley (Kona) motors
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)

After nine years, downhiller Tracy Moseley is moving on from the Kona Bicycle Team. The talented British racer visited the podium at 112 races since signing with the squad in 2000. Her first trip to the World Cup podium happened just one year later, and she captured her first World Cup title in 2002 in front of a home crowd in Fort William, Scotland. In total, Moseley can count a European downhill championship, 10 World Cup victories and five national downhill titles while racing in Kona colors.

"Riding and racing for Kona over the last nine years has been an incredible journey," said Moseley. "At the outset I had no idea that I would make a long career out of the sport and I had no idea Kona and mountain bike racing would give me the opportunity to travel the world and meet so many great people."

"Kona is one big family, and wherever I have been in the world I have always had an amazing welcome from the Kona distributors everywhere," said Moseley. "I am very grateful for the commitment, support and opportunities ... over the last nine years."

"Always smiling and always the consummate professional, Tracy will be sadly missed by the Kona crew," said Kona co-founder Jake Heilbron. "We wish her the best of luck in her future with a new team and a new ride. And we look forward to seeing her at the races and on top of podiums all over the world."

Moseley was ranked third behind World Champion Rachel Atherton (Animal Commencal) and Sabrina Jonnier (Team Maxxis) after the final round of the 2008 UCI World Cup.

Aussie mountain bikers of the year awarded

Double award winner Caroline Buchanan Photo ©: John Veage
(Click for larger image)

Some of Australia's best mountain bikers were awarded at the 2008 Australian Cyclist of the Year awards in Melbourne last weekend.

Canberra's Caroline Buchanan won an impressive two categories. The 18-year-old was named both the Elite and Junior Female Mountain Bike Cyclist of the Year. She was also a finalist in the junior female BMX Cyclist of the Year, but that award went to Lauren Reynolds from Bunbury. Buchanan will compete in the Australian National Mountain Bike Series second round this weekend on the Gold Coast along with male BMX Cyclist of the Year winner Jared Graves (Toowoomba).

For the fifth year in a row, downhiller Sam Hill took the Male Mountain Bike cyclist of the year award. Hill did not attend the ceremony because he was in America testing his new equipment for the upcoming season.

Sam Willoughby also claimed two awards. He doubled up by winning both the junior male BMX and Junior Male Mountain Bike Cyclist of the Year titles. Reynolds and Willoughby are overseas racing BMX in the American ABA races.

2008 Australian Mountain Bikers of the Year
Elite Male MTB Cyclist of the Year - Sam Hill
Elite Female MTB Cyclist of the Year - Caroline Buchanan
Junior Male MTB Cyclist of the Year - Sam Willoughby
Junior Female Cyclist of the Year - Female MTB - Caroline Buchanan

Tour of the Himalayas 2009 to benefit Pakistan

By Steve Thomas

The Tour of the Himalayas
Photo ©: Steve Thomas
(Click for larger image)

Racers looking for a worthwhile challenge with stunning scenery for 2009 might consider signing up for the Tour of the Himalayas mountain bike race or tour in Northern Pakistan on September 25-27, 2009. The event was first held two years ago, when it was named the Tour of the Karakurrums. Next year's event will follow a similar format to previous editions.

The race was launched initially to raise awareness and funds for the earthquake victims of the Kaghan Valley in Northern Pakistan, many of whom are still homeless and impoverished, and severely lacking in resources and aid since the earthquake was somewhat overshadowed by other natural disasters that year. So far, the event is well on its way to achieving its goals, and the Kaghan Mountain Trust, who organise the event, have just opened the Kaghan Memorial School, which now provides essential basic education for many younger children in the valley - something which has not been available since the earthquake struck. The achievement comes thanks in part to the race.

Stages have yet to be finalised, but are all likely to be held at over 2,000 meters of altitude, and in the northern Naran end of the valley. In the past, the route has mixed marathon circuits with point-to-point courses, and a circuit race. The mighty Barbusar Pass, well over 5,000 meters high, has highlighted past editions when conditions permit.

Selected, international, mixed teams of three will be invited for the main race. A full mountain bike tour will also be run in conjunction with the event for those wishing to take it easier.

For more information, visit www.kmt.org.pk or e-mail info@kmt.org.pk.

La Ruta adds a day

Adriana Rojas Cubero (Bemosa / Pq) in the La Ruta
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

It's been less than two weeks since the finish of the 2008 La Ruta de los Conquistadores, but plans are already underway for an expanded event for next year. La Ruta will be growing by one day for a total of five days of racing for its next edition in on November 10-14, 2009. The race format, its course, the services for the participants and the logistics will experience several changes for next year.

Race Director Diego Víquez said he had been analyzing the changes prior to the most recent edition.

"The central modification will be the five-day format, adding one more day to the trek. This is not going to alter the 'backbone' of La Ruta, which will continue to trace the route of the Spanish explorers' paths across the Costa Rican territory," said La Ruta PR Director Luis Rueda. "In fact, the first three days will stay practically the same."

The total amount of paved roads will be reduced as organizers look for alternative fire roads and off-road passes to replace them. The current fourth day's course will be detoured when the racers hit the flat routes to the Caribbean Sea. Instead heading east on the train tracks, racers will be directed west towards the Mid-Atlantic Region.

The organization is trying to end stage four at the facilities of the EARTH University, a Tropical Region and Agricultural School, which is an international, private, non-profit organization. The fifth and final stage would also begin there, but would finish at the same Caribbean location of the past four editions, the Reina's Tourist Complex of Playa Bonita. While fourth stage is planned to be between 70 and 80 kilometers, the fifth and final will be approximately 60 kilometers.

Organizers are hoping to reduce La Ruta's ecological footprint and are looking at ways to achieve a carbon neutral certification for future events. Participants will also be able to expect upgraded mechanical services catering of food for meals before, after and during each stage.

For more information or to register for one of the 300 spots, visit www.adventurerace.com.

Topeak Ergon expands North American campaign

Following a successful 2008 season, the Topeak-Ergon Team is expanding its North American program for 2009. The team is adding four new racers to the current roster of Dave Wiens and Jeff Kerkove.

Sonya Looney of Boulder, Colorado, will bring her technical savvy and power to several formats of racing. Her goals for 2009 include top finishes at the Leadville 100, US Marathon National Championships, and cross-country races in the Mountain States Cup Series. Looney will also head up "Women Only Group Rides" and get her hands dirty in IMBA organized events.

Hailing from Japan, but living in Denver, Colorado, Yuki Saito came to the US to further his college education and development on the bike. Known as an endurance racer and a specialist on power and technical courses, Saito clocked a strong finish at the 2008 Leadville 100 and a solo win at the 12 Hours of Snowmass. He has proven himself as an up and comer in the long distance format and will race cross-country, marathon, and endurance races across the Mountain West.

As previously announced Cyclingnews' diarists Eddie & Namrita O'Dea, of Atlanta, Georgia, will also be joining the squad.

Avalanche Trophy awards car to Absalon

Remy Absalon picks up his new car
Photo ©: Saab Salomon Avalanche Trophy
(Click for larger image)

Rémy Absalon (Commencal) won a car for his efforts taking the overall 2008 Avalanche Trophy. Last Friday, Absalon headed to Dijon to pick up his Saab 9.3 Break. The new wheels will come in handy when transporting Absalon to next year's races as organizers also announced the 2009 series calendar.

Absalon won with 1,843 points ahead of Grégory Doucende (Lapierre Salomon) with 1,649 points and David Vazquez Lopez (Lapierre Salomon) with 1,615 points. Rémy is two-time Olympic Games gold medal winner Julien Absalon's younger brother.

Avalanche Trophy 2009
Round 1: April 25-26: Avalanche Enduro Kielder (UK)
Round 2: June 13-14: Maxiavalanche Vallnord (Andorra)
Round 3: July 10-12: Megavalanche Alpe d'Huez
Round 4: August 29-30: 4th leg : Maxiavalanche Are
Round 5: September 26-27: Location TBD

For more information visit www.saabsalomonavalanchetrophy.com.

Tasmania gets new stage race

A new stage race, the Blue Dragon Challenge is coming to Tasmania in January. The two-day event will run over two 50km stages on January 17-18, 2009. Riders will be required to ride in pairs over the entire distance.

On day one, racers will travel through the historic township of Derby and the surrounding hills and open plans with vistas of the North and East coasts. It will also visit rainforests along the edges of rivers. On day two, races will get an education in mining history, passing the old Anchor mine on the way to the top of the Blue Tier and passing by granite boulders, myrtle trees and rainforest.

Blue Dragon Challenge
Stage 1 - Derby -Derby, 50km
Stage 2 - Weldbrough - Weldbrough, 50km

Wild Wheel Promotions, the organizers of the event, announced that their Craggy Peaks Marathon will be cancelled for 2008 due to ongoing construction and logistical issues. The marathon is expected to return to the calendar in 2009.

For more information or to register, visit www.wildwheelpromotions.com.au.

Cyclingnews' MTB contest winner picked

Cyclepassion 2009 Calendar
Photo ©: Cyclepassion
(Click for larger image)

Ted Ludwig of Wisconsin won our first-ever MTB News reader contest. Ludwig was selected at random from those submitting correct answers to the trivia question; therefore, he will be receiving an autographed copy of the 2009 Cyclepassion calendar.

For those of you wondering about the correct answer, Ren Chengyuan (China) won in Houffalize, Belgium; Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Norway) won in Madrid, Spain; Margarita Fullana (Spain) won in Andorra; Irina Kalentieva (Russia) won in Canberra, Australia; and Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) won in Schladming, Austria. That leaves Sabine Spitz (Germany), Olympic Games Gold Medallist and World Champion, as the only non-World Cup winner in the bunch.

The 2009 calendar features photographs by Daniel Geiger and the following athletes:

- Norwegian Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa, Seven-time World Cup champion and 2004 Olympic gold medallist
- German Hanka Kupfernagel, 2008 Elite Women's Cyclo-Cross World Champion, 2000 Olympic champion
- Russian Irina Kalentieva, Bronze medal winner 2008 World Championship and 2007 World Champion
- American Willow Koerber, Sixth overall in the 2007 World Cup
- Germany Steffi Marth, 2008 German 4X champion
- Sabine Spitz, 2008 European champion, 2008 Olympic champion, 2008 World marathon champion

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